Office of Environmental Protection now legally formed

The Office of Environmental Protection (OEP) was officially formed earlier today (17 November) following the passing of the Environment Act 2021 the week prior.

Enshrined into law on 9 November, the Act being granted Royal Assent means that a whole host of environmental targets will become legally-binding once the legislation comes into effect. The OEP will work to enforce these regulations and will hold governmental bodies to account on their obligations as such.

Houses of ParliamentIn terms of the directives that will impact the waste and resource management sector, the Environment Act promises to deliver the following:

  • The successful transition to an increasingly circular economy
  • Increased recycling rates across the general public
  • Increased usage of sustainable packaging by businesses
  • Increased efficiency of household recycling
  • The introduction of a ban on plastic waste exports, particularly to developing countries.

The formation of the OEP is an ‘important step’ towards the task force becoming a ‘fully operational and independent organisation’, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) states. The transition towards the body’s functional independence will commence in the New Year, at which stage the Government is expected to take the necessary steps to make the OEP’s ‘functions and powers’ available to it. It is at this point that the organisation will become fully operational. In the interim, however, the department asserts that it will continue to develop its ‘strategic approach’, preparing to consult on potential strategy as soon as its functions are ‘enabled in law’.

Once completely functional, the OEP will have the power to ‘monitor and report on environmental law’, providing the Government with the required legal advice for instances in which legislation is breached. The OEP will also collaborate with public authorities in order to enforce compliance, as well as reviewing and reporting on the Government’s progress towards meeting environmental targets and goals.